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January 25, 2021 10:50 am  #1


Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

Not everyone’s cable or satellite package includes WGN America. It used to be a straight out simulcast of Chicago’s Channel 9, then moved into original programming. But even though it’s one of the handful of so-called “super stations” allowed into Canada (WPIX New York, WSBK Boston and KTLA L.A. are among them) relatively few watch it.
 
But now WGN is going away, to be replaced by a new station called “NewsNation.” Yes, yet another news channel – although it won’t be all news at the beginning. It’s named after their much hyped but little watched news show, whose conceit is that it’s completely fair and balanced, leaning neither left nor right.
 
The news line-up will be expanding into several hours more a day, culminating in what I like to call the “Dragnet” nighttime newscast – just the facts, ma’am.
 
Even though WGN as it currently stands isn’t highly watched, I think it’s a risky business move. There’s already CNN, HLN, MSNBC, Fox News, One America News Network, and NewsMax, not to mention offshoots like CNBC and Bloomberg. Seems to me they’re a bit late to the game, even with the unbiased promise.
 
The change begins on March 1st.

Chicago cable network WGN America changing its name to NewsNation, going all-in on news

 

January 25, 2021 11:15 am  #2


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

I was under the impression that the WGN seen on Canadian cable as part of the superstation package is still the Chicago WGN-TV feed, just as the "TBS" that was authorized for Canadian cable is Channel 17 in Atlanta, now independent WPCH-TV. Am I wrong about that?

 

January 25, 2021 11:23 am  #3


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

I was under the impression that we got the national feed, but since I don't get the channel in my line-up, I could be wrong.

I think Canadians would be better served by the new so-called 'unbiased' news voice here, rather than reruns of the same old shows and local headlines from "Chicago's Very Own," even if new owner Nexstar is late to the all-news game. But perhaps someone who receives it can fill in this blank and tell us which version they'd rather see.

I'm also curious to know if anyone on this side of the border who gets the station ever watches it at all. 

     Thread Starter
 

January 25, 2021 11:59 am  #4


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

Canada gets WGN-TV Chicago on cable, not WGN America. Same with the former TBS, we get WPCH-TV Atlanta instead of the national cable channel TBS.

Personally, I watch WGN-TV. I like their newscasts (and their morning show is hilarious), and the reruns they have. They were more useful when WGN Chicago used to carry broadcasts of all the Chicago sports teams (Cubs, Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls and the occasional MNF with the Bears), but unfortunately they lost those rights to other channels. 

Up until NewsNation's creation, WGN America's lineup didn't appeal to me at all. I have been watching NN online since its launch and it's a very good broadcast, so it's a tough call if I want either WGN9 or WGNA on the cable lineup. 

 

January 25, 2021 12:15 pm  #5


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

In addition to WGN, WSBK, KTLA and WPIX, there are several other CRTC approved U.S. stations that I don't think are or ever have been available on Canadian cable/satellite systems. KSTW-Tacoma, KWGN-Denver, WWOR-NYC and WUAB-Cleveland. The Cleveland station was probably offered by a few SW Ontario cable systems in the 70's and 80's.

 

January 25, 2021 12:19 pm  #6


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

I used to watch WGN quite a bit.  It used to carry the Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs and White Sox.  All of those are gone to RSN.  (Regional Sports Networks).

 

January 25, 2021 12:47 pm  #7


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

The local WGN Chicago is available in Canada, but to my knowledge WGN America (different network) is not.    Similar to TBS, where we only got the WTBS feed authorized.   When they made TBS its own national network and flipped WTBS to Peachtree, we lost access to TBS in Canada.

    

 

January 25, 2021 4:29 pm  #8


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

Here is a brief explanation (I hope) of why U.S. Superstations are somewhat different than U.S. national "network" feeds.   WTBS Atlanta (Channel 17) was an over-the-air station that triggered satellite carriage in the 1970's.   It was owned by Ted Turner and then Turner Broadcasting.  Incidentally, in order to fit through a loophole in U.S. law, Ted Turner helped a friend set up Southern Satellite Systems to distribute WTBS at sort-of arm's legnth from Turner Broadcasting.     Due to program rights restrictions and U.S. retransmission laws,  WTBS in its complete form became untenable in the US as a retransmitted station to cable operators.   For a short time, I believe that programming within WTBS that could not be retransmitted nationally in the U.S. and hence programming was substituted on the satellite-to-cable feed.  Eventually Turner Broadcasting launched TBS - as a service that was almost completely separate from the Ch 17 over-the-air station.  In 2007, I believe that the over-the-air WTBS Ch. 17 changed its call-sign to WPCH (Peachtree)  Because Turner cleared national programming rights for TBS, there weren't blackouts required by local cable affiliates.   In Canada the CRTC authorizes non-Canadian services, on the basis of unique programming, or over-the-air signals.  Cable operators pay a "per sub" fee for specialty channels.  However, our Canadian (OTA) retransmission regime is also different from that of the U.S.   For WGN, for example, to have remained on cable in Canada, after WGN America came about, required Canadian cable operators to pick up the WGN Channel 9 over-the-air signal.  (or a fibre-direct signal of the OTA WGN channel 9).  When TBS was no longer simulcasting the OTA Atlanta Ch. 17, TBS became ineligible to be carried in Canada.  That is why WPCH is carried in Canada.  It is an OTA signal.  Now to the additional complexity.   In Canada, cable operators are permitted to distribute "distant" over the air signals, for a flat rate of approximately $1.17 per month.  Carry 1 or carry all for $1.17 a month.  That rate is set by the Copyright Board of Canada, following hearings that can drag on for years.   But the caveat is, a very high percentage of the programming must be transmitted over the air, in the home market of the distant signal.  (there was litigation years ago regarding WGN - oddly enough) Hence, WPCH (Peachtree) is carried in Canada as is the OTA WGN Ch. 9 signal.  And TBS and WGN America are not carried here.   Taking the example of Bell Satellite, all of their distant signals which include Seattle stations and Boston stations, WGN, WPCH, WSBK, CW11, KTLA - as a group only cost Bell $1.17 a month - a copyright retransmission payment.  But Bell sells these services to subscribers for many times the $1.17.  It's a huge profit driver in their packages.  Nothing is required by law in Canada to be remitted to the originating stations.  The Canadian Copyright "Retransmission Tariff" is called "Tariff 17".   

One other anecdote.  In the mid-1970's the CRTC Chair and senior staff did not believe that superstation WTBS (or any U.S. satellite signal) could be "received" on Canadian soil.  It was transmitted on RCA Satcom.   I and some others caused something of a mutiny when we received WTBS, and KTVU and several other stations, at a Canadian Gov't research site near Kanata.  We recorded the signals on video tape (pre-beta max) and showed the tape to CRTC Commissioners, who literally freaked out.  The big "lie" was that there was some form of electronic iron curtain that would have precluded U.S. satellite signals from being received in Canada. None of what they were being told, was true.

I still have a copy of a a report that was done, documenting the reception.   There were still people at the CRTC and DOC who claimed U.S. satellite reception was not possible on Canadian soil.  I used to ask them, "do you know where Windsor Ontario is?" - the answer of course is south of parts of the City of Detroit, and hence any satellite signal from a U.S. satellite received in Detroit, was of course landing in Windsor.   My time at the CRTC ended shortly after the WTBS/KTVU demonstration.  Some people obviously were not pleased when the truth came out via the video tape recorded on the outskirts of Ottawa. (lol)

I hope this clarifies the differences between the U.S. and Canadian services.  Any questions?

Last edited by tvguy (January 25, 2021 4:36 pm)

 

January 25, 2021 5:00 pm  #9


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

Five or six years ago with the package I had with Bell Fibe, I received some of the superstations like WPIX, WGN, WSBK, KTLA, WPCH and they were fine if you wanted to watch local news from those cities or a local morning show.  But they all more or less carried a lot of the same sitcom's which made up most of their schedules every day.   Seinfeld, Big Bang, Broke Girls, Mike and Molly, Will and Grace etc. and some other programming I was already getting.  A couple of them I believe were affiliated with the CW.
 
So for whatever reason after about 3 years they weren't part of my package anymore, however I didn't really care since I wasn't watching them much at all.  Maybe initially these stations did run a lot of unique programming not available here, but they didn't seem to when I was receiving them. Mostly a lot of the same strip sitcoms, dramas and shows that I already have on other channels. 

 

 

January 25, 2021 5:42 pm  #10


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

That was a lot to read, but I think I get it, except for when Tribune makes an exit.
Mission broadcasting takes over and is managed by Nextar media group.
Does this mean that Canadians also lose WPIX as of March first 2021?
https://www.pix11.com/about-us

 

Last edited by Radiowiz (January 26, 2021 4:19 pm)


RadioWiz & RadioQuiz are NOT the same person. 
RadioWiz & THE Wiz are NOT the same person.
 
 

January 25, 2021 5:48 pm  #11


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

mace wrote:

In addition to WGN, WSBK, KTLA and WPIX, there are several other CRTC approved U.S. stations that I don't think are or ever have been available on Canadian cable/satellite systems. KSTW-Tacoma, KWGN-Denver, WWOR-NYC and WUAB-Cleveland. The Cleveland station was probably offered by a few SW Ontario cable systems in the 70's and 80's.

Actually I get KSTW and WWOR on Telus Optik here in Western Canada, and I think KSTW is one of the basic US stations available in Vancouver.

@Radiowiz I'm not sure how WPIX being taken over by Mission/Nexstar would result in WPIX going away from Canadian cable/satellite. The Nexstar deal went through a long time ago and WGN and KTLA are still available here.

 

January 25, 2021 6:47 pm  #12


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

ED1 wrote:

@Radiowiz I'm not sure how WPIX being taken over by Mission/Nexstar would result in WPIX going away from Canadian cable/satellite. The Nexstar deal went through a long time ago and WGN and KTLA are still available here.

I was viewing WPIX as one of many possible new homes for the news format rather than just WGN. 

Last edited by Radiowiz (January 25, 2021 6:48 pm)


RadioWiz & RadioQuiz are NOT the same person. 
RadioWiz & THE Wiz are NOT the same person.
 
 

January 26, 2021 3:13 pm  #13


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

mace wrote:

In addition to WGN, WSBK, KTLA and WPIX, there are several other CRTC approved U.S. stations that I don't think are or ever have been available on Canadian cable/satellite systems. KSTW-Tacoma, KWGN-Denver, WWOR-NYC and WUAB-Cleveland. The Cleveland station was probably offered by a few SW Ontario cable systems in the 70's and 80's.

WUAB has been on cable in London since the 1970s and is still there to this day on cable 20, even after the digital transition. As a result London was one of the few communities in Canada to receive a MyNetworkTV affiliate on basic cable, and is one of the few to get The CW on basic today. For a period of time in the mid-2000s we also had the co-owned Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO on digital cable. Some communities closer to Lake Erie received the full roster of Cleveland stations on cable for many years and the London Free Press carried all those stations in the old TV Times along with Detroit, Erie, and Buffalo.

WUAB, sometimes at night, had an awful signal on London cable, at least back in the analog days. I can remember trying to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation on that channel in the early 90s and it suffered from severe interference. Being on Channel 43, it was probably receiving adjacent channel interference from Channel 42, which was CKCO from Oil Springs. From my understanding WUAB was picked up over-the-air by the cable companies.

I get KSTW on cable 14 on Shaw here in Vancouver, which of course makes Vancouver another Canadian city to receive The CW on basic cable.

Last edited by MJ Vancouver (January 26, 2021 11:53 pm)

 

January 26, 2021 4:24 pm  #14


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

Radiowiz wrote:

ED1 wrote:

@Radiowiz I'm not sure how WPIX being taken over by Mission/Nexstar would result in WPIX going away from Canadian cable/satellite. The Nexstar deal went through a long time ago and WGN and KTLA are still available here.

I was viewing WPIX as one of many possible new homes for the news format rather than just WGN. 

Okay I understand now. WPIX 11 will maintain OTA status with various local content, but also switch to the new News Nation format.  

 


RadioWiz & RadioQuiz are NOT the same person. 
RadioWiz & THE Wiz are NOT the same person.
 
 

January 26, 2021 5:20 pm  #15


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

Radiowiz wrote:

Radiowiz wrote:

ED1 wrote:

@Radiowiz I'm not sure how WPIX being taken over by Mission/Nexstar would result in WPIX going away from Canadian cable/satellite. The Nexstar deal went through a long time ago and WGN and KTLA are still available here.

I was viewing WPIX as one of many possible new homes for the news format rather than just WGN. 

Okay I understand now. WPIX 11 will maintain OTA status with various local content, but also switch to the new News Nation format.  

 

WPIX is still the CW affiliate for New York City, so I doubt it would be changing its format. Other than perhaps using NewsNation content in its local newscasts.

 

January 26, 2021 5:36 pm  #16


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

Radiowiz wrote:

ED1 wrote:

@Radiowiz I'm not sure how WPIX being taken over by Mission/Nexstar would result in WPIX going away from Canadian cable/satellite. The Nexstar deal went through a long time ago and WGN and KTLA are still available here.

I was viewing WPIX as one of many possible new homes for the news format rather than just WGN. 

Nexstar isn't putting News Nation on any of its broadcast stations. It's cable-only, and it's only the WGN America cable network that's changing its branding, not WGN-TV in Chicago, WPIX in New York or any of its other local stations around the country. 

The local stations do run plenty of promos for NewsNation - I see them constantly on WROC here in Rochester - but Nexstar's business model there is to drive cable viewership and presumably to try to get cable companies to pay them a higher per-subscriber rate the next time WGN America/NewsNation comes up for renewal. 
 

 

January 27, 2021 1:10 am  #17


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

fybush wrote:

Radiowiz wrote:

ED1 wrote:

@Radiowiz I'm not sure how WPIX being taken over by Mission/Nexstar would result in WPIX going away from Canadian cable/satellite. The Nexstar deal went through a long time ago and WGN and KTLA are still available here.

I was viewing WPIX as one of many possible new homes for the news format rather than just WGN. 

Nexstar isn't putting News Nation on any of its broadcast stations. It's cable-only, and it's only the WGN America cable network that's changing its branding, not WGN-TV in Chicago, WPIX in New York or any of its other local stations around the country. 

The local stations do run plenty of promos for NewsNation - I see them constantly on WROC here in Rochester - but Nexstar's business model there is to drive cable viewership and presumably to try to get cable companies to pay them a higher per-subscriber rate the next time WGN America/NewsNation comes up for renewal. 
 

I am also seeing stations like KTLA and WGN9 use NewsNation content on their local newscasts in lieu of content from other providers like CNN. I could see NN also produce a 30-minute national news show for its stations that don't currently have any news programming.

 

January 27, 2021 12:10 pm  #18


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

ED1 wrote:

fybush wrote:

Radiowiz wrote:


I was viewing WPIX as one of many possible new homes for the news format rather than just WGN. 

Nexstar isn't putting News Nation on any of its broadcast stations. It's cable-only, and it's only the WGN America cable network that's changing its branding, not WGN-TV in Chicago, WPIX in New York or any of its other local stations around the country. 

The local stations do run plenty of promos for NewsNation - I see them constantly on WROC here in Rochester - but Nexstar's business model there is to drive cable viewership and presumably to try to get cable companies to pay them a higher per-subscriber rate the next time WGN America/NewsNation comes up for renewal. 
 

I am also seeing stations like KTLA and WGN9 use NewsNation content on their local newscasts in lieu of content from other providers like CNN. I could see NN also produce a 30-minute national news show for its stations that don't currently have any news programming.

That would effectively be the return of the Independent Network News (INN) from the 1980s. It was produced by WPIX and aired on numerous independents across the US.

 

January 27, 2021 3:04 pm  #19


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

ED1 wrote:

I am also seeing stations like KTLA and WGN9 use NewsNation content on their local newscasts in lieu of content from other providers like CNN. I could see NN also produce a 30-minute national news show for its stations that don't currently have any news programming.

"NewsNation content" isn't really a thing. The back story here is that Nexstar has been more aggressive than anyone else in the US (even Sinclair) in buying up as many local stations as it can, within the FCC's national ownership caps. Each of those local stations, of course, comes with a local newsroom - and "NewsNation content" is really just WIVB content and WROC content and WSYR-TV content. The idea is to take all those hundreds and hundreds of reporters and MMJs out there, add a Washington bureau and a few roving national reporters, and boom - instant national news operation without all the expenses of launching one from scratch!

But the local brands are still where the money is. Even the local newsroom in Chicago is still branded entirely as "WGN9 News." I don't see that changing to a national "NewsNation" branding at the local stations.  
 

 

January 27, 2021 3:30 pm  #20


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

The gimmick with NewsNation is in its being promoted as the first totally "non-biased" newscast in America - leaning neither left or right and presenting only the facts, without taking any political side. In other words, everything CNN, Fox News or Newsmax is not. But if the local stations' coverage that will be used in the program doesn't adhere to that formula, they'll never be able to live up to that promise.

That plus the fact very few are currently watching it, makes it a risky proposition to enter the market trying for a share of the audience.

It will be interesting to see how they do - and how long it lasts. 

     Thread Starter
 

January 27, 2021 4:10 pm  #21


Re: Get WGN America On Canadian Cable? Not For Much Longer

RadioActive wrote:

The gimmick with NewsNation is in its being promoted as the first totally "non-biased" newscast in America - leaning neither left or right and presenting only the facts, without taking any political side. In other words, everything CNN, Fox News or Newsmax is not.

During these "only the facts" newscasts, how would they handle the issue of the November 2020 presidential election?

Would they state that the election was stolen from tRump, or would they report that the election was run properly across the various states, and that Biden legitimately won the election?

Or, so as to try to keep both left and right viewers watching, would they report that in the minds of many Republicans, and all Qanons, OathKeepers, ProudBoys, Alex Jones-believers, etc. the election was stolen, but, in fact, a new president was sworn in based on accepted Constitutional norms? Trying to balance that one would be a high-wire act for any news director to perform.